on November 14, 2015
London is definitely a city for food lovers. True, the English capital probably has something for everyone and every interest out there, but on a recent weeklong visit, all of my experiences were punctuated by extraordinary food: local, exotic, authentic, fresh, creative…the list of adjectives goes on and on.
There was, of course, a mandatory visit to the Borough Market, which will continue to amaze me no matter how many times I stroll through its colorful stalls. In addition to a delicious £5 lunch (seriously, best falafel ever), I treated myself to specialty salts from Cornwall, tea grown in Britain and chocolate made from Buffalo milk, little pieces of the market to bring back to Boston with me.
There was also an afternoon in hipster-y Islington. Our plan was simply to check out a few boutiques, but somehow it turned into a culinary experience. First we happened upon Udderlicious, a colorful little shop that makes its own ice cream using organic milk. An hour later, we completed our backwards lunch with a meal at Pizza Locadeli, coaxed in by the sight of a pizzaiolo flipping dough in front of a beehive-style oven. As we chatted with our waiter – who, like everyone else working at the restaurant, spoke with an Italian accent – we learned that the place was a popup by chef Giorgio Locatelli, whose “Made In Sicily” book has been on my wish list for a couple years now. It was a beautiful coincidence.
Throughout the week, London’s cuisine surprised me over and over again, before culminating in the most wonderful way at Salt & Honey, a small bistro located north of Hyde Park near Paddington. I read about the restaurant in one of my food bibles, Olive magazine, and was sold on it when they mentioned the peanut butter chocolate pretzel tart. For the record, the dessert, with its rich fudgy center, dollop of peanut butter cream and pretzel crust, did live up to the rave review.
From start to tart, though, everything about the evening really exceeded our expectations.
As we sat down, we were welcomed with a sweet pomegranate spritzer. Then after some debate about the appetizer, we went with the fennel cured beef and burrata, a dish that did not disappoint as its two main ingredients balanced each other beautifully in both flavor and texture: the salty, bitterness of the cured meat with the slightly sweet taste of the milky Italian cheese.
It couldn’t get better than this, I thought, as I ate the last bite of the beef and burrata. I was proven wrong when my main course, Manuka honey-glazed organic salmon with fennel and pomegranate, was brought out.
Being served perfectly cooked fish without any fuss was a revelation. Some seafood restaurants in the Boston area have started treating salmon like hamburgers, asking how you want it done. It annoys me every time. Fresh salmon aught to be served the way it is at Salt & Honey: full of flavor and cooked through so it just flakes apart with a fork.
With every few bites of my dinner, I had some exclamatory comment to share about the meal. “Oh my god, this is delicious.” “It’s better than I imagined.” “I haven’t had a dish this good in months.” I went on and on, and it was all true. During my week in London, Salt & Honey was the icing on a cake made of many layers, each one as delicious as the last.